Harvard psychologist and TED Talk lecturer Daniel Gilbert to speak at Spring Convocation

by Alex Hager

Elon University has announced that Daniel Gilbert, Harvard psychologist and bestselling author, will serve as the Spring Convocation speaker. Gilbert is known for his TED Talk “The Science of Happiness” and his award-winning book “Stumbling on Happiness”.Daniel_Todd_Gilbert.jpg

Gilbert’s TED Talk is one of the 15 most viewed of all time, and his book spent six months on the New York Times bestseller list.

Gilbert might be best known for his appearances in television commercials for Prudential Financial, in which he talked with Americans about saving and financial planning. In addition, he has contributed to Time, The New York Times, and NPR’s “All Things Considered.”

“This is a great example of Elon’s priority on bringing world leaders and scholars to campus,giving students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to learn from people who have challenging and inspiring ideas,” said Dan Anderson, vice president of university communications.

Anderson emphasized Gilbert’s success as a speaker and author, adding that he may be the “best known psychologist in the world today.”
Spring Convocation will be held on March 30, 2017, at 3:30 p.m. in Alumni Gym. Tickets for the event will be available on March 9 for $13 or free to anyone with an Elon ID.


Former Elon men’s soccer coach Chris Little talks about future, legacy

After six years with the Elon men’s soccer program, including three years as head coach, Chris Little is leaving his position to take a job with the Seattle Sounders Academy.

Little was at the helm of the program during the Phoenix’ transition to the Colonial Athletic Association. During his time as head coach, the team won a CAA regular season championship, earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament, and went 30-18-9.

“We have a mantra with the players, and we talk about having an opportunity to leave the jersey in a better place every year,” said Little. “I look back and ask, ‘Was I able to fulfill that in my role as a coach?’ We’ve won five championships in the last seven years, and four NCAA tournament [appearances]. I look at the team now and it’s an incredibly talented team that’s very young and is set up and destined for success in the next couple of years. I feel as though I can hold my head up and say, ‘I’ve given it my best shot and I’m leaving it in a better place.'”

Little’s next job will take him to Seattle, where he will serve as director of coaching for the Seattle Sounders developmental academy. The Sounders are the reigning champions of Major League Soccer.

“There was a lot of things that contributed to the decision, but the core of the decision is a family one,” said Little. “After deliberating with my wife, weighing everything, we thought it would be a really good opportunity for our family.”

Little added that the decision was made “with a heavy heart.”

Little departure marks the second time in a row that an Elon head coach has left for an MLS academy job. Darren Powell left Elon in 2013 to lead the academy for Orlando City SC.

Watch the full interview with Little below.

Local reporting and beats: ABNW chapter two

By Alex Hager

Although they often don’t shine as much as glamorous feature reporting, local reporting and beat reporting are integral parts of journalism. On-the-ground community reporting is responsible for some of the best storytelling in all of journalism. Reporters who have their finger on the pulse of a community can tell incredible tales about the people and phenomena that define a town or a group of people.

The beginning of this chapter professes the value of “shoe-leather” journalism, the practice of getting out from behind a desk or computer and getting your feet on the ground to report. By physically immersing himself in a community, a writer can learn every aspect of a story, and thus, tell that story better.

Beat reporting is like this, in a way. A beat reporter has the responsibility and privilege of learning a topic inside and out, front and back. A beat writer is an expert, an ultimate authority on their subject. Because of their ability to know the background of their beat, their stories turn in to deep anecdotes and well-informed profiles of people and events, because the author already has a background knowledge that allows them to go above and beyond the basics each time they write a story.screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-11-59-07-pm

The first section of this chapter also debates the balance between informative fact and illustrative (and sometimes lightly eccentric) storytelling. One theory of journalistic ethics suggests that the reporter subtract himself from the community to eliminate emotion and conflicts of interest, leaving him to report only on the facts he obtains. A second school of thought, though, argues that some of the best reporting comes from writers who are practically embedded in a community, and can learn every single facet of a story and then tell that story with captivating flourish. The book, however, suggests that a balance can be struck between the two, the result being an ethical, fact-fueled reporter who can also entertain and inspire.

Although the emergence of online news has, to some degree, nationalized audiences and pulled focus away from local reporting, publications with the money, resources, and audience to do so are still putting out amazing local and beat reporting to this day. Below are some recent examples.

Although big city papers with national coverage see massive circulation numbers and have
This Stamford Advocate profile on a local Muslim 1024x1024woman is a great example of putting a local spin on a national storyline. Liz Skalka, the reporter who wrote the article, weaves a story of a single woman’s life to help contextualize themes of a larger, difficult-to-grasp phenomenon. By showing how the woman interacts with the Stamford community, Skalka not only describes a person, but a member of the community.
This next story is exemplary of excellent sports beat writing. This Chicago Tribune article chronicles the night the Chicago Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years. Obviously, it was a monumental win. However, only a writer with decades of experience covering the team, like Paul Sullivan, can fully capture the emotion and gravity of the ct-cubs-indians-world-series-game7-photos-101victory in a way relatable to the team’s lifelong fans. The win meant so much for the team and the city of Chicago,and only a true expert on the situation would have the power to contextualize that fully. A talented sportswriter can write an equally captivating story about the iconic, like this Cubs win, or the mundane, like a meaningless loss in the middle of a long season. But that’s what makes beat writers so special. They have the background knowledge to fully explain exciting storylines, and the intimate awareness of situations to turn humdrum events into exciting stories.

While sportswriting serves to deepen a reader’s understanding of the familiar, some beat writers use their talents to shed light on the unfamiliar. Tim Arango, the New York Times’ Baghdad Bureau Chief, has spent years covering the Middle East and its new, old, and ongoing conflicts. In this captivating story of fleeing strife, Arango shows the humans
caught up in a war that many Americans might not think about on a daily basis. Arango 22fleemosul3-master675explains the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the situation in a factual manner, but then goes on to pepper in human storylines. Only someone with intimate knowledge
of the issues and the region would know who and to look for in terms of details, and then how to tell such a story in a way that accurately
portrays the depth of the situation’s struggle.

Colleges and universities across the nation respond to executive order restricting immigration

In the wake of President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning refugees and immigrants from some predominantly Muslim countries, reactions have poured out from colleges and universities across the United States. Protests and social media movements have sprung up on campuses, but many schools have issued official responses from the administration.

Institutions of higher education have been among the most active in responding to the executive order at an organizational level. Many colleges and universities have explained how the order conflicts with their academic missions and ideologies, but the financial impact could also be significant. One estimate suggests that U.S. colleges could lose $700 million as a result of the restrictions. Because of these factors, reactions have been overwhelmingly critical of the order, with many referencing the impact travel bans may have on students.

Elon University President Leo Lambert issued his own statement on the matter in an email to students and faculty. In the email, Lambert didn’t directly criticize the order, instead saying that the University is “monitoring [the] unfolding situation very carefully.”

Like many universities’ statements, Lambert’s eschewed a political stance and instead chose to deal with the individuals affected by the order and how the University is planning to help those who may have their educational plans impacted.

“Elon’s Global Education Center staff members are working individually with international students and scholars to offer counsel, guidance and support,” said Lambert. “In order to safeguard privacy, we will make no statements about individuals who might potentially be affected by the Executive Order.”

Earlier this week, Lambert traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with North Carolina lawmakers regarding the effects of the order.

Duke University issued a response similar to Elon’s. In a statement by University President Richard Brodhead and Provost Sally Kornbluth, the restrictions on immigration were called “confusing and disturbing.”

“We are deeply concerned about the well-being of students, faculty and staff who may be impacted by the policies that have now been put in place,” reads Duke’s statement, “and will join with the rest of higher education to bring these concerns to the attention of policymakers and the public.”

Larger public universities, too, shared many of these sentiments. The University of California system released a short statement on behalf of its President and ten Chancellors calling the executive order “contrary to the values we hold dear as leaders.”

The American Association of Universities (AAU), a nonprofit coalition that includes 60 research universities nationally, also released a statement on the restrictions, assuming a critical tone and calling for change. The statement, authored by AAU President Mary Sue Coleman, said that the order is “already causing damage” and “should end as quickly as possible.”

“We also urge the Administration, as soon as possible, to make clear to the world that the United States continues to welcome the most talented individuals from all countries to study, teach, and carry out research and scholarship at our universities,” said Coleman. “It is vital to our economy and the national interest that we continue to attract the best students, scientists, engineers, and scholars.”



Deadline reporting: ABNW chapter one

by Alex Hager

Writing on deadline can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to reduce the quality of your work. In this first chapter of America’s Best Newspaper Writing, experienced reporters explained how to make the most out of a story during a time crunch.

Although the news cycle is fully and unchangeably 24/7, there is still a need for deadlines and an ability to write on them. It’s (relatively) easy to gather and disseminate information for a story on a deadline, but the biggest struggle can often be telling that story interestingly, creatively, and captivatingly.

notebook2-1The best way to help yourself write in a time crunch is to prepare as much as possible before hand. Pre-writing or even just pre-researching can help give a story a skeleton before it’s filled in with details, facts, information, or narrative storytelling. This saves time and energy as a reporter learns details of an unfolding story.

Another important skill needed to write on a deadline is the ability to write as you report. Not only is it helpful to write before, but it’s also useful to write during. By collecting information in a strategically structured way, it’s possible to build your story before it’s even completely written. This, however, requires special attention to detail during the editing phase, as you may have to catch more mistakes than usual.


The media world is full of gleaming stories written on a tight deadline, but the general public often doesn’t realize that. First and foremost, the best stories completely hide the struggles or panics going on behind the scenes of a story. The best stories present a polished finished product, tight to the point that a reader can’t tell the difference between a story that took a week to write and a story that took half a day.

Sometimes, the recent nature of the events portrayed might suggest a tight deadline. And in a 24 hour news cycle, that’s often the case. For example, in the wake of President Donald Trump’s executive order suspending immigration from certain countries and banning refugees from entering the United States, reporters have been searching for interesting human interest angles.

This story from Washington Post reporter Patricia Sullivan tells an intriguing tale about a D.C. area-church that was planning to host an Afghan refugee family, only to learn that their soon-to-be-guests had been held up in accordance with the executive order. The story is informative but also captivating. The reporter most likely wrote this story on a deadline, simply because the story had to get out while the executive order was still a relevant topic. However, the article makes no compromises to quality or storytelling. The pacing and narrative hold the reader’s attention, but still provide a lot of quote-based and fact-heavy information.

The 24/7 news cycle has, in some ways, changed our very definition of the deadline. Now, a deadline can simply be “as soon as possible.” Although news organizations generally prioritize accuracy over immediacy, there is a huge rush to get news out before a competitor, and simply to get it out as soon as it is available. In some cases, like the example below, an article is posted about an event before the event even ends, and is updated as it unfolds.


Written in part by Elon alumnus Michael Bodley, this San Fransisco Chronicle article chronicles a wild night of protests at The University of California at Berkeley in response
to a school-sponsored appearance by conservative writer Milo Yiannopoulos. The story is long and informative, and was composed by compiling information immediately as it became available. One of the strongest elements of the article is the way it integrates pictures, video, and relevant links.

This final example meets a more traditional definition of deadline reporting. This article was featured on the front page of the New York Times national section on Wednesday, meaning that it was certainly published before a deadline. This story is, above all else, an excellent example of captivating narrative storytelling. Well it certainly includes facts, this story almost reads like a novel, incorporating people and intimate details of their lives to capture the reader’s attention. A creative story telling tool employed by this story is the use of compartmentalizing certain sections and storylines. By putting each under a different subhead, it allows the author, Kirk Johnson, to efficiently organize his content.

Elon to host apocalypse conference

by Alex Hager

Elon University’s Center for the Study of Religion, Culture, and Society (CSRCS) will be hosting a symposium called “On the Edge of Apocalypse: New Directions in the Interdisciplinary Study of Religion” Feb. 9-11 in the Numen Lumen Multifaith Center on campus.

Eleven scholars focusing on the theoretical and methodological boundaries of religion and related topics will convene to explore apocalyptic thought and practice. The scholars,  from the United States and Canada, will discuss apocalyptic pattern
s, symbols, and rhetorics as they pertain to our past and present interpretations of religion.

According to Brian Pennington, CSRCS director and professor of religious studies, Elon is hosting the conference as part of its commitment to educating the community about the role of religious ideas in society and to advancing research about the role of religion in society.

“This symposium is an opportunity for Elon faculty to collaborate with other academics

A depiction of the apocalypse (via On the Edge of Apocalypse conference website)

from the U.S. and Canada on a common research project,” said Pennington. “As part of the symposium, we will also hold a poster session for Elon students doing research on religion to get feedback on their own projects.”

Pennington added that the range of scholars and the topics they will cover is varied and widespread , ranging from “Christianity to Islam to Hinduism” and popular culture.

The keynote address by Rice University professor David Cook on Feb. 9 will be open to students, faculty, and the general public.

More information about the conference can be found at http://blogs.elon.edu/ontheedge/.


Demonstrators gather at RDU Airport to protest “Muslim ban” executive order

Protestors gathered at Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Sunday afternoon to protest an executive order from President Donald Trump that bars Syrian refugees and citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States.

According to the airport, more than 1,000 people were present for the protest. The original permit issued by RDU allowed for a protest of 150 people, prompting the airport to call for the protest to end at 3 p.m., an hour earlier than originally scheduled.

The protest dissipated shortly after 4 p.m., as police officers ushered attendees onto pre-arranged shuttle buses. No arrests were made at the protest.

Protestors carrying signs opposing what many have called the “Muslim ban” repeated chants such as “say it loud, say it clear, everyone is welcome here” and “no Trump, no KKK, no racist, fascist USA”.

“I’m out here because I don’t know if my constitutional rights have been taken away,” said Ma’idah Lashani, a protestor of Iranian descent from Chapel Hill. “With this new administration, all the rules are out the window. And that includes fundamental freedoms and things that are essential to our country, not just as Americans, but as citizens of a democracy.”

Protestors in front of RDU’s Terminal 2. (Photo by Christina Casillo for ENN)

More than 1,500 people indicated that they were attending the protest on a Facebook page created for the event. According to the page’s description, the event was scheduled for 1 p.m. “in solidarity” with a protest at the White House starting at the same time.

The RDU protest was organized late last night after similar gatherings sprung up at airports across the country. Images emerged on Saturday night of throngs of demonstrators assembled at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and at Washington D.C.’s Dulles International Airport.

Approximately 50 protesters gathered at Charlotte Douglas International Airport on Saturday. The protests in Charlotte resulted in six arrests, according to the Charlotte Observer.

Some educational organizations and institutions have condemned the order, noting the impact it may have on students from the countries identified in the ban. Mary Sue Coleman, president of the Association of American Universities, an organization of 60 American and Canadian universities, said “the order is already causing damage and should end as quickly as possible.”

“The order is stranding students who have been approved to study here and are trying to get back to campus, and threatens to disrupt the education and research of many others,” Coleman added.

After the protest, on Sunday night, Elon University President Leo Lambert sent an email addressing the executive order to students and faculty.

“Elon’s Global Education Center staff members are working individually with international students and scholars to offer counsel, guidance and support; in order to safeguard privacy, we will make no statements about individuals who might potentially be affected by the Executive Order,” said Lambert. “However, we are relieved to report that no members of the Elon community have been stranded outside the United States because of this Executive Order.”

Lambert also said that he and other North Carolina University leaders will be traveling to Washington D.C. on Tuesday to meet with the state’s senators and congressional representatives and to voice their views on how immigration policies will impact North Carolina higher education.

Students, visitors, legal permanent residents of the United States and refugees from a number of different countries were held up at airports Saturday night in accordance with the order, which was signed on Friday evening. Some of those stopped were blocked from entering the United States, with some being sent on return flights out of the country.

“We have to stand up for American values,” said Safia Swimelar, a professor of political science and policy studies at Elon University, who was at the protest on Sunday. “This is who we are. We accept all people. Ruling without consulting lawyers, without consulting bureaucratic agencies is bordering on authoritarianism, and we can’t accept that.”

The American Civil Liberties Union estimated that between 100 and 200 people were being held up in American airports in accordance with President Trump’s order. The ACLU announced late Saturday that a federal judge had blocked part of the order, preventing refugees held at airports from being sent back to their home countries. The order was not overturned in its entirety.